How to prevent common skin infections in the monsoon

Skin infections are a common ailment during the monsoon season. The skin becomes inflamed, itchy and starts to ooze. Take precautions to keep your skin healthy during this season. Here is a list of do's and don'ts during monsoon.

Monsoon is perhaps the most awaited season of the year. The parched earth cries for some cooling showers. People wait with bated breath for the arrival of the dark monsoon clouds. Rain brings relief from the sweltering heat, rain brings freshness – trees take on a bright clean look and the ground suddenly erupts into an explosion of green.

Monsoon also about steaming hot cups of coffee and 'masala chai' served with lip-smacking delicious 'pakoras'. Nothing is more invigorating than the smell of petrichor and a 'bhutta' roasting on an open fire. The soft pitter-patter of the rain and the melodious call of the 'koyal'. That sums up monsoon for me, as it does for most others. Right? Well, maybe not quite.

Monsoon also heralds problems – floods, water stagnation, mosquitoes and skin ailments, to name a few. Skin conditions usually flare up during wet weather, but they can be kept under control, with some precautionary measures. This article gives you some beneficial skin care tips, which are easy to follow and provide good protection against skin infections.

Why skin conditions become aggravated

It is common for skin conditions to become aggravated during monsoon because the climatic conditions are favourable. The humid sweaty weather provides the right environment for bacteria, viruses and fungus to thrive. The damp skin, especially on the folds of the body becomes susceptible to infections. The areas of the body that most commonly get affected by skin infections are the regions on the neck, behind the knees, underarms, groin, under the breast, at the waist and in-between the toes. Sweat and moisture become trapped in these regions causing a flare-up of different types of skin conditions.

Other factors that aggravate skin problems

While the weather is largely responsible for most of the triggers, there are a host of other factors that can cause the skin to erupt into an infection. These are –
  • Lack of hygiene – Daily baths are important; having a bath removes disease-causing bacteria and germs etc.
  • Lack of footcare – Feet need special care during the monsoon. The puddles and the stagnant water that you step into every time you go out, house innumerable disease-causing microorganisms. Hence, feet should be washed often and kept dry. Concentrate in the regions between the toes and behind the toes
  • Keeping feet wet – Allowing the feet to remain wet for long hours is inviting trouble. If your feet get wet, dry them – avoid sitting in wet shoes and socks. A good practice is to wear comfortable water-resistant footwear when you are going out (even to work) and carry another pair or leave a pair in office, so you can change into it at work
  • Non-breathable socks – Use cotton socks that absorb moisture and are breathable. Synthetic socks will prevent the moisture in your feet from drying. And wet feet will be prone to infections
  • Synthetic undergarments – Wear cotton undergarments, for the same reason. Cotton clothes absorbs moisture and allows the skin to breathe. Wearing synthetic underwear will cause the skin to become irritated because it traps in moisture
  • Health conditions – Medical conditions such as diabetes and even obesity can cause rashes on the skin. The thighs, for instance, chafe while walking, when you are fat and overweight and this could worsen over time

Understanding skin problems

Itchy rashes and infections caused by bacteria and fungus are common skin issues, during monsoon. The infection can be localised or spread to other places on the body. The irritated skin can cause ugly skin eruptions that sometimes become inflamed and ooze. The infections can also be contagious and spread through contact. Be careful with your personal hygiene items and do not share them with anyone. Have your own towel and bedsheet and bathing soap and loofah.

Prevention is better than cure

A few timely precautions can help you ward off the ill-effects of the monsoon –
  • Maintain good personal hygiene. Take special care of skin folds and keep them dry. Use talcum powder as it absorbs moisture. Use prickly heat powder to prevent those tiny irksome skin eruptions and use an anti-fungal powder in problem areas, like the groin and toes
  • Wear sensible footwear, one that dries easily, and preferably made of rubber-like synthetic material. Prefer open footwear to a closed pair
  • Loose, breathable cotton clothes are ideal for this weather. They allow air flow and do not constraint and cause rashes
  • Take extra precautions if you are a diabetic
  • See a doctor at the first sign of an infection. Do not try to self-medicate or imagine that the skin infection will go away on its own. It won't – visit a dermatologist for proper treatment. This will prevent you from transmitting the infection to others
  • Do not share clothes and other personal hygiene items with others, and wash your clothes regularly. Whenever possible, dry clothes in the sun, as doing so kills a lot of microorganisms and use a disinfectant medium as the last rinse, especially during the monsoons to make your clothes really clean
  • If you get a skin infection the dermatologist will prescribe either anti-bacterial or anti-fungal medication, depending on the type of the infection. Medicines are prescribed for oral use and local application. Make sure you follow the complete course of the medicine to ensure complete resolution of the problem and to cut the risk of relapse
  • Avoid scratching an itchy, infected skin as this would worsen the condition
  • If you suffer from a problem of excessive perspiration then use antiperspirants. They are available in lotion, spray and roll-on forms. You may also use lacto calamine lotion on irritated skin, it has a soothing effect and reduces itchiness and inflammation. It also has healing properties, but do not use it on broken skin
  • Use neem leaves in your bath water. Boil a few neem leaves and use the water as a final rinse, once you are done bathing

Hope these tips on the do's and don'ts during the rainy season will help you keep your skin healthy and problem free during this monsoon season. Do you have any tips to share? How do you protect your skin during the monsoon season?

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